As usual, the MIT media lab cranks out amazing stuff- Brandon M Anderson put together a fascinating infographic that maps every citizen recorded in the 2010 US census. The graphic itself is very compelling, especially when you adjust the scale, but what is also compelling is Anderson’s description of the process. Using GIS shapefiles, python, processing, Google Maps, and a 17 GB CSV file (!) Brandon was able to produce an incredibly dense graphic. Read more about his method here.
CNN featured this project on their what’s next blog and noted the dense population in the east part of the country compared to the west. This was attributed to a proximity to agriculture, but Dr. Adelamar Alcantara of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research here at the University of New Mexico would be quick to point out that there are other factors at play as well. According to Dr. Alcantara, the U.S. census is a fairly flawed system, based largely off of IRS tax returns that are validated by county census records- a system which can ignore low income people in poor counties or in areas without a similar infrastructure. Dr. Alcantara is developing a system that uses GIS to evaluate the number of housing units for the state, cross reference those records with birth and death certificate records, then evaluate the “gaps” in the addresses. A paper on the BBER’s work related to this subject is here.
While the Census Dotmap is an amazing example of describing immensely large amounts of data, making the data understandable should not only posit theories about trends and patterns but call to question the nature of the data to begin with. Can we understand a graphic when we cannot assess the information it represents?
Matt Shlian Aleatoric
Matt Shlian Extraction Series 2
Yatsuaki Onishi Reverse of Volume
Eva Hesse No Title
Eva Hesse Untitled
Barry Le Va Bearings
Barry Le Va Distribution Piece
Peter Saville Cover For Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures
Jean-Pierre Hebert Fractured Landscape
Gerhard Mantz Unabweisbare Gefahr Nr. 3
A collection of images representing field diagrams and models.
for architects and designers, it’s pretty hard to have a complex web presence without hosting it all yourself. chances are if you’re trying to represent yourself online, you’re right out of school and you’re looking at hosting packages and thinking “I’d rather eat.” there’s lots of great methods for hosting free content out there, but it’s difficult to synthesize them all into one package- so here’s some tricks.
for years I was trying to get wordpress to host my portfolio. didn’t work. wordpress is really fantastic at hosting text posts, but isn’t set up for groups of images that you’d use to put together in a portfolio. tumblr is fantastic for hosting both images and text, but then you run into an identity problem where projects you blog about might appear to be ones you worked on and vice versa.
I’m a pretty solid wordpress supporter. once wordpress figured out they were loosing a massive chunk of the market to blogger just because blogger looked better, they started creating tons of great looking themes (*cough cough* exhibit a…). they have a pretty robust free platform, with lots of reasonably priced add-ons, like domain name hosting and css editing. recommended.
there are so many trashy, inflexible engines for portfolios out there. the one that I feel has a great eye for design, is reliable, and fairly customizable is cargo collective. you have to request to be accepted (don’t be daunted, everyone I’ve recommended to cargo has been accepted), but one on it’s completely free. like wordpress, there are some add-ons for the premium rate, but it’s reasonably priced as well. highly recommended.
arianna huffington recently claimed that the BP oil spill is the first environmental crisis where polling shows that the US population hasn’t gotten greener. 3 mile island, exxon valdez, and even hurricane katrina had a correlating public shift towards more environmentally-conscious policies- but there hasn’t been a similar shift after the BP oil spill.
both of these phenomena seem to indicate that sustainability as it relates to design and politics could be at a tipping point- either the tide of public interest has hit its high mark and will recede to a more complacent position towards the environment or this movement will continue where previous ones slowed.
if interest in sustainability is to increase and we are to endeavor to live more harmoniously with our environment, it will be in part by designers who masterfully fold sustainability into their craft so effortlessly it couldn’t have been imagined any other way and excels because of it. chris jamison’s plywood office is one practice that does just that- using sustainability as a catalyst for great design, with everything from the strata of bamboo plywood in the stripes coffee table to tree-less hammock hammy.
wandering through dwell on design, plywood office was a stand out- it was the most compelling work of the show, great design that was spawned by both functionality and an ethos. if we are to become even more sustainable as a nation and as a planet, it will be because of more designers like plywood office.
it’s easy to get mired in a view of design that focuses data exchange between ecotect and grasshopper, performative skin systems in generative components, and scripting architectural solutions, but once in a while you find a completely different take on what design is and what you really should be doing to be creating a design solution. james rojas of g727 and metro has one of these takes on design on an urban scale: let the community members design it themselves. if you haven’t seen one of james’ installations for yourself, you can’t imagine the vast amount of trinkets, toys, and other items that people can use to construct their own vision of their environment. by using either items we recognize as toys or elements taken out of context, the users have a remarkably high amount of creativity and exploration.
read more about one of james’ installations on ::industrianism.
these shots are from an interesting architectural exploration from the university of stuttgart, where willows and trees grow to become load bearing members of a 26′ tower. as the trees develop, so does the structure and the program.
what ‘s unique about this project as compared to projects like plantware and patrick dougherty‘s work is the demand placed upon the trees. in other projects that either reappropriate plants to perform an alternative function or reorganize trees to provide enclosure, this example of building botany asks the trees to support more than their own weight. in the spiegel online article there’s a description of how the architects need to manipulate the trees to become load bearing, which is an interesting process of placing lateral forces on the trees in order for them to develop a support for the steel platform.
which calls into question, how green is this? forgetting for a moment that this is a nascent technology and that with time it will certainly become more efficient, it would be interesting to see how much energy is used in weighting the trees versus creating the lumber necessary to frame the same structure. I think this project is brilliant, but too frequently we define what is sustainable very simplistically. for example, it takes five years for the average driver to counter the embodied energy of just the battery of a prius, much less the rest of the vehicle. in the case of building botany, does removing the fabrication process of lumber out of construction create a more sustainable building method or is there an economy involved in creating massive amounts of lumber at once and then shipping it very efficiently? it’s a little unclear, which is why I wish there was more published on this process. regardless, its an incredibly fascinating and thought-provoking development.